Friday, May 27, 2016

$4.3M center aims to draw international flights: Austin Straubel International Airport (KGRB), Green Bay, Wisconsin

Kathryn's Report:

ASHWAUBENON - Local, state and federal officials said Friday’s opening of a $4.3 million international arrivals terminal at Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport will boost the airport’s long-term economic impact.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility gives agents a dedicated location for processing charter flight passengers and international travelers for whom Austin Straubel Airport serves as the initial point of entry into the country. Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach said local officials spent five years lobbying federal agencies to fund the project.

“We really do truly appreciate the significant efforts that came forward to make this project a success,” Streckenbach said.

Customs officers now occupy the former airport fire station building following extensive upgrades to the building, parking lot and tarmac. About $3 million of the project cost was funded by the federal government. The remaining $1.3 million came from the state and county.

Airport Director Tom Miller said Customs officers previously worked in the airport’s terminal building, where it was difficult to process charter flights that account for much of the airport’s international travel.

“It didn’t provide them the security or space they needed to operate efficiently,” Miller said.

International flights into Austin Straubel are primarily private and corporate aircraft. Officials are optimistic the new facility will help expand international traffic.

He said the new building will enable more secure operations and more capacity to handle international operations whether it be Canadian pilots flying into the country for EAA’s AirVenture in Oshkosh or the Green Bay Packers’ return from a game in England.

“Customs has already agreed that if the Packers play a game in England, they could return straight here rather than have to stop at another entry point,” Miller said.

Now that the facility is built, local officials will continue to push for federal funding to hire five more Customs officers at the airport. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin said she’s introduced legislation to fund the positions.

“One challenge facing Austin Straubel Airport is the need for additional Customs and Border Protection officers to meet the growing customs demand and help expand international service,” Baldwin said.

Original article can be found here:

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